What were the Blue Jays supposed to do? What did they do?
Continuing our look back at the stupid things we said before the season, we come to the Toronto Blue Jays. The season preview from February can be found here. What did we write, and what did we learn? Well, we didn't learn anything because we're stubborn. But what should we have learned?
Overall tone of the preview:
The last line was "That's the thing about Toronto, man. I get older, they stay the same Jays," and that was the theme. The Blue Jays are as incapable of finishing with a winning percentage below .450 as they are of finishing with a winning percentage above .550. They've carved out this weird niche where they roam around third and fourth place in the A.L. East like a ship of lost, feathered souls.
What actually happened?
73-89, fourth place.
What changed between the preview and the end of the season?
Here's how the season started for the Jays: Jesse Litsch's shoulder hurt, but the doctors found inflammation instead of structural damage. All he needed was a platelet-rich plasma injection into his arm, and he would be right as rain. Except the injection caused an infection that ended up being career threatening.
The 2012 Toronto Blue Jays.
The organization was one more injury away from throwing Dave Stieb into a volcano to appease the angry gods. Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek, Luis Perez all had Tommy John surgery; Sergio Santos and Dustin McGowan had shoulder surgery. Brandon Morrow missed over two months with an oblique tweak. They acquired J.A. Happ to shore up the rotation, and he broke his foot. The freak Litsch injury was just the start.
Yet the Jays still managed a team ERA+ of 92. Not bad, considering. The two pitchers who stayed healthy all season, Ricky Romero and Henderson Alvarez, were dreadful, too.
Even if those pitches stayed healthy, though, the Blue Jays wouldn't have hit enough to make up the difference. Only two starters had an adjusted OPS over 100, and one of them missed 70 games. The lineup was riddled with disappointing seasons, from Colby Rasmus to Yunel Escobar.
Other than that, the Blue Jays' season went pretty well.
Player(s) I ignored for whatever reason
The only mention of Edwin Encarnacion came at the end, when I mocked his preseason status as the #5 hitter. He hit 42 home runs.
The Jays signed him to a three year, $27 million contract in July, and he didn't slow down. Fun fact: In September, he hit .238/.376/.513 in 101 plate appearances, despite a .194 batting average on balls in play. That's what you get when you study under Jose Bautista.
The breakout season of Encarnacion is the obvious choice, but don't sleep on just how terrible Ricky Romero really was.
He started the season as expected, then got sucked into a vortex, leading the league in walks allowed. He was promising in August, but his September made everyone forget that. It was a truly lost season for a pitcher who was supposed to be a key part of a contending team.
Obscenely stupid quote
This will do:
Somewhere between 80 and 87 wins. Some things go right. Some things go wrong.
Nope. It will alllllllll go wrong. The twist of the knife was that the Orioles made the playoffs. The Orioles. After two decades of not being good or lucky enough to sneak in the back door, the Jays had to watch the Orioles enjoy a freaky successful season.
The tone of the next preview?
Praise for a few select pieces of the Jays' future, but skeptical of the team's ability to contend in the short term. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.